by Andrew Ellis
In Minnesota’s north mining region, the towns along the Mesabi Trail host several of the state’s historical gems and a family fun destination to explore by bike or on foot. In this pristine area of the state, you will find over 28 small mining communities along this well-known paved trail system. With the trail here, it is easy to travel from town to town by bike. From Grand Rapids on the western end to Ely, 150 miles to the east, there are a lot of fun sights to see as you ride. For the mountain biker, this area has left many rugged deposits to perfect your skills. The area also boasts some of Minnesota’s best scenic road touring routes, with low-traffic roadway loop options returning to the Mesabi Trail.
More About the Bike-Friendly Mesabi Trail Towns
A vast area, the Mesabi Trail Towns string through the Iron Range, covering many mining towns you can start and stop at. They include Grand Rapids to the west; and further east, Hibbing, Chisholm, Mt. Iron, Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik, Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, Embarrass, and now Ely. Along the way, if you prefer, there is no shortage of walking tours.
The west end of the Mesabi Trail is Grand Rapids, where touring cyclists will find the Mississippi River Trail (MRT), and mountain bikers can enjoy the Tioga Recreational Area.
Further east, in Hibbing, you can visit Bob Dylan’s childhood home; the Hull Rust Mine overlook, and Greyhound Museum. Mountain bike Redhead Mountain next to the Minnesota Discovery Center. And further east, look into the history of the Range’s “Queen City” at the Virginia Heritage Museum. Or take a walk around the US Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth. To enjoy the scenic thrills of downhill mountain biking, there is Giant Ridge near Biwabik. There are also plenty of lakes to drop a line, swim, or enhance your tan.
The Iron Range Area covers many miles, but it’s all accessible – especially if you use your bike. The Mesabi Trail makes for a convenient connecting point for all the communities. So it’s easy to travel around pedaling on two wheels to all the unique stores, eateries, and attractions.
Biking Opportunities in the Iron Range
There are several opportunities for biking in the Iron Range. If you’re into mountain biking, it’s just a matter of where you want to go first, with four different systems to choose from. You can also extend your adventure using the Mesabi Trail to connect to various forest and mining roads.
The Mesabi Trail
Besides mining, bicycle tourism is the other attraction that connects the communities here. A fantastic adventure in its own right, the Mesabi Trail takes you through the beautiful northern Minnesota forests full of nature and wildlife. And with so many scenic views, there is no doubt you will want to stop to take a picture or two to share your experience here.
And don’t forget the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour. Ride for fun or ride for the challenge. Either way, mark your calendar for Saturday, August 5, 2023, for the most fun you can have on two wheels!
Mountain biking here includes an edgy new park.
The Iron Range may not have mountains, but there are plenty of trails and loops for mountain bikers to battle down. From the Tioga Recreational Area, near Grand Rapids, to the new Redhead Mountain Trails near Chisolm, they say it will rock you. This huge park, with over 30 loops, covers over 25 miles. Offering spectacular views of reclaimed mine lands, bright blue pit lakes, and more. Enjoy this edgy-designed park with remarkable terrain.
Further east is Giants Ridge offering over 24 miles of trails and loops to challenge you and offers great scenic views. Big Aspen offers a whopping 21 miles of trails to shred on old logging roads and abandoned railroad grades. The sections here vary in difficulty, with many loop opportunities offering scenic vistas.
Road Biking Options
While the Mesabi Trail connects the Iron Range towns, each community has its own road system that allows for easy bike travel and loop options. These roads allow you to navigate from place to place and explore each town as in-depth as you wish. e the area.
See more at At-A-Glance Mesabi Trail.